Moving Home: A Decade of Vanlife

Ten years ago, after twenty-four years of living, loving and working together, we decided to shake things up. A sabbatical in 2013 resulted in a desire to simplify our lives and make more time for travel and adventure. So we sold our home, letterpress studio and printing equipment in Toronto and purchased and moved into a 1990 Volkswagen Westfalia camper van.

On May 9th, 2014, we left our brick-and-mortar home and drove away in our home on wheels, all destinations possible, three years full-time and the following seven part-time. Ten years, more than 300,000 kilometres, nine provinces, forty-two states plus the District of Columbia, three countries, countless highways, byways, interstates, backroads, bridges, islands and ferries, two oceans, a couple of Gulfs, rivers and lakes, great and small. Two camper vans, one co-op apartment in Toronto, several Airbnbs, a B&B and a few hotels scattered around North America, one rental apartment in Amherstburg, a borrowed house in Toronto, a home in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia and an innumerable number of campsites.  We have explored provincial, state, and national parks, cities, towns, villages, and hamlets from coast to coast. 

We have moved slowly and sometimes more quickly than we prefer because of deadlines, commitments, or weather. Breakdowns have impacted our plans, slowed us down, demanded patience and created scenarios for unplanned exploration and interactions with people we now call friends. Our wanderings were interrupted by caring for and supporting my dad, Bill, who was diagnosed with Dementia in 2015 and died in 2021. In 2017, we inherited my dad’s dog, MacDuff, which brought our brief re-entry into Toronto living to an end. Then there was the world changer, Covid-19. And finally, just as we downsized and moved back into full-time van life, Christian was diagnosed with cancer during the summer of 2022. 

For ten years, we have been contemplating what home means to us, to others, to our present and future. We have been seeking answers for the past decade, but both the questions and answers keep changing along with the circumstances life presents. We pivot, we move, we reevaluate—constantly. The truth is that home is wherever we are, together, in a home, an apartment, an Airbnb, a borrowed home, or a camper van.

We’re still at it, slow and steady, curious and open. We don’t feel like we need to see or do everything. We make choices that make sense to us at the moment. We rarely plan but, more often than not, choose spontaneity. We may be more curious each year, continually learning and remaining open to lessons from this wild, unpredictable life. 

We are grateful we couldn’t find a home ten years ago because it opened us up to incredible experiences, many new friends, and countless memories. It has been a moveable feast of a decade.

We keep moving.

Moving in the sense of wandering from one place to another.

Moving to and from one home to another.

Moving in our home from place to place.

Moving within our home city.

Moving from our home city to another part of our home province.

Moving to another province, a new home province.